Friday, November 16, 2007

Good salts, bad salts

Our modern diets are overloaded with sodium, hidden in processed and prepared foods, and iodized salt a staple in kitchens. This causes high blood pressure, water retention, dehydration, premature aging, hair loss, and deadens our tasted buds requiring evermore flavoured foods (ie. more salt, sugar, flavour enhancers). But not all salts are created equally, and not all salts are bad for you! In fact, the body needs salt to balance the electolytes in the body. Here are some distinctions:

~ regular table salt no longer has anything in common with the original crystal salt, because table salt is now the chemical compound sodium chloride as opposed to the natural crystal; it is "chemically cleaned" and reduced only to sodium and chloride, dried in high-temperature kilns that changing he salt's chemical structure, which in turn adversely affects the human body

~ iodine is added to table salt to prevent goiter, but is so plentiful in preserved foods that we don't need to add it in our cooking; magnesium carbonate or sodium silicoaluminate are also an additive to prevent clumping (anything with "alum" should be avoided in the diet as it's been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's -- this includes aluminum cookware, deodorants, and baking powder)

Table salt (sodium chloride) has only 2 or 3 chemical elements, whereas sea water has 84 elements; for our body to be healthy we need all those elements; in using common salt, we are depriving ourselves of vital trace minerals, contributing to health imbalances and becoming more susceptible to disease. If we think of our bodies having the same salinity as the ocean, and if indeed we all came from that original source of life on Earth, it would make sense to recreate in ourselves the perfect balance of minerals found only in these ancient bodies of water.

~ sea salt is produced by evaporating sea water as compared to salt produced from mines, but read labels carefully as many of these salts are refined and use some of the same additives as
table salt

~ look for 100% natural (no additives) sea salt, harvested and processed by organic methods, unrefined, and free of pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals

~ fleur de sel means "salt flower" and is a very special sea salt from France, with fine moist granules of a whitish-grey colour; traditionally harvested (mostly by women) by skimming the surface of the sea water of the salt marshes

~ sel gris (grey salt) is organic French sea salt, moist and unrefined and high in minerals. It remains a light grey, almost light purple color because of the clay from the salt flats where it is collected by hand using traditional Celtic methods; considered to be the best quality salt available

~ Himalayan crystal salt comes from one specific location in Pakistan and has been the subject of comprehensive medical research; this special salt can actually be viewed as food and is considered holistic, wholesome, unaltered, natural salt, as it has crystallized in the Earth over millions of years; it contains all the elements (natural minerals and trace elements) found in the human body

~ tissue Salts are inorganic mineral substances, exactly the same as those that compose our earth and its soils, recognized by 19th century physician Dr. Schuessler as the material basis of the organs and healthy cellular function of the body

~ 12 tissue salts were identified to be present in every human cell (Calc Fluor, Calc Phos, Calc Sulph, Ferr Phos, Kali Mur, Kali Phos, Kali Sulph, Mag Phos, Nat Mur, Nat Phos, Nat Sulph, and Silica)

~ Rasas are the 6 tastes Ayurveda uses to assess foods; they include Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Astringent, Pungent, and Salty

~ the salty taste (lavaana) is heating, moist and heavy, and stimulates digestive fire while providing some grounding -- this makes Salty flavours good for calming Vata, and hence in excess aggravates Kapha and Pitta

~ every meal should contain all 6 tastes to some degree, depending on dosha, so moderately include the salty flavour in your meals (from sea vegetables, Bragg Liquid Aminos, and small amounts of healthy sea salts)

Find more info about Himalayan crystal salt, Ayurvedic tastes, tissue salts, and French natural sea salts.


Lucy Goldwyn said...

you are on a roll, i always love reading your posts and apparently i haven't been checking back regularly enough.

melanie said...

Someone told me that processed foods do not use iodized salt because of the expense. It got me thinking that for the longest time I had only been using Kosher salt, which is not iodized, and if I was lacking in iodine. I've switched to sea salt and use Braggs, I love that stuff. I'm still not sure about the processed foods question but thanks for all your great info. I'm new to Ayurveda and do you know of any Kapha support chat rooms? I need extra motivation obviously :)

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Thanks for your comments!

Melanie, thanks for that info on processed food -- one more reason to stay away from it! As a Kapha, Bragg is a great alternative, and though sea salt is great you could also use that as sparingly as possible. Don't know of any chat rooms, but that's a great idea! Maybe you (or a Vata/Pitta) could start one? :)